Legacy of the Tobruq heros to be commemorated by an integrated international ground-based air defence exercise

Autor: Nuala Casey, Oldrich Holecek

On Monday 22nd June, an international exercise of ground-based air defence units, Tobruq Legacy 2015, begins at the Boletice military area in Cesky Krumlov. In addition to Czech soldiers, members of the armed forces of Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia and the United States of America will also participate.

For two weeks, the South Bohemian military area will be the setting for almost five hundred soldiers from five countries. “Last week, we completed the demanding preparatory phase which was carried out over several months. We have come a long way from the original idea of a joint ground-based air defence exercise, and I believe that our efforts and hard work will pay off in the end with a successful outcome of the exercise,“ said Colonel Vladimir Barca, commander of the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment based in Strakonice.

The exercise will confirm the ability of each country to fulfill their obligations set out in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty regarding the collective defence of NATO member countries. It is the first time that this type of joint exercise of air defence units will take place on Czech territory and will be operated by members of the Armed Forces of the Czech Republic. “Our soldiers will greatly improve their skills in command and control of ground-based air defence units from other NATO member states, and will also gain valuable experience which they can then employ in future allied operations,“ Colonel Barca added.

The exercise commemorates the deployment of Czech soldiers during World War II

The name Tobruq Legacy was not chosen randomly. 'Tobruq legacy; or 'Tobruq heritage' is in fact the honorary title (Tobruq) held by the defence regiment in Strakonice, endorcing its soldiers' allegiance to the legacy of the 200th Czechoslovak Light Air Defence Regiment which was actively involved in the battle of the North African port, Tobruq, during the Second World War.

For the first time, over a 24 hour period, four nations will jointly launch their missiles

During the exercise, several types of portable air defence short range missile systems will be used. Czech and Lithuanian soldiers are currently practising with the RBS-70 air defence missile system which guides missiles to targets remotely by means of a laser beam. The Slovaks will use the IGLA systems and the Hungarians their own MISTRAL systems. The IGLA and MISTRAL operating system is based on the optoelectronic self-guidance principle. Using systems with different guidance principles substantially reduces the chance of an air-based enemy taking effective counter-measures.

The culmination of the tactical exercise will be a live-fire exercise using the above-mentioned weapon systems, and this will be for the first time in Czech history that an integrated firing exercise of short-range anti-aircraft missile systems from four NATO armies will takes place in one day.

The task of the American soldiers during the exercise will be to provide and operate data transmission from CRC (Control and Reporting Centre) in Stara Boleslav to the command headquarters of the practising units in Boletice. For this purpose, they will use the FAAD command and control system.

Author: CPT Jana Samcova, Press and Information Officer of the 25th Air Defence Missile Regiment, Strakonice

Translation: Marketa Kmunickova, University of Defence, Brno

Photos: Czech, Hungarian, Lithuanian and Slovak military photographers

June 22, 2015